Oranges and maize, a healthy diet?

A recent study looked at the levels of Vitamin C in supermarket oranges. I haven’t seen this study myself, but I’ve heard about it from 2 different people in the industry, so you can treat it as informed hearsay, and, if you can provide more information, please comment on the blog.

I bet you can guess what I’m going to say. That the study showed that supermarket oranges had less vitamin C than fresh organically grown oranges? Much less vitamin C? Well, no. The study showed that the supermarket oranges contained NO vitamin C. That’s right, none at all. Oranges, the doyen of vitamin C, the fruit against which everything else with vitamin C is compared, containing none at all.

The reason, as always, is a little harder to discern. Is it because they’re sprayed? Because the soil is so poor from years of chemical farming that the building blocks for the formation of Vitamin C are not there? Because, like so many cultivated plants, they’re usually not grown from seed, but grafted onto other citrus rootstock?

I don’t know the answer. But I do know that I’d prefer to buy organic oranges, from a source I know and can visit, rather than a heavily sprayed one from a supermarket.

A visit to Abalimi

If you want to see where some of your Ethical Co-op food comes from, Abalimi, who support a number of township growers, host visitors every Tuesday morning. A number of us from the co-op went along this week, and enjoyed seeing the passion of a group of urban farmers making a living from a small, windswept plot surrounded by a sea of shacks. The soil may be sandy, but it has never been damaged by chemical farming, nor contaminated by building activity (like my garden, which seems to uncover paint strips no matter how deep I go). Visit for more information.

Too many people?

Do you think there are too many people on the planet? Well, never fear, help is at hand. Genetically-modified maize has been shown to damage fertility. In one of the very few long-term studies, (which are usually drowned out by short-term, biotech company-funded studies), an Austrian team, commissioned by the Austrian Health Ministry, found that Monsanto’s NK603 x MON810 maize line, already approved as ‘safe’ for human consumption, damages fertility.

Remember that almost all maize grown in South Africa is genetically-modified.

As 2005 study on GM soya showed similar results. As happened then, expect a counter-assault from the biotech companies, with commerce and politics trumping science, integrity and good health.

Slow Food and Community-Sponsored Agriculture

We’re entering into a partnership with Slow Food Cape Town in support of the first local Community-Sponsored Agriculture (CSA) project. A CSA is where members of a community will support a farmer, usually paying upfront, and then sharing in the risk and reward of the harvest with the farmer. We’ll have more details about the project next week.

Head on over to to order.

Have a great week,
the Co-op team

Comments ( 15 )

  1. Elma

    I have just returned from a visit to a cousin who owns a dairy farm - regrettably not organically. Eish!! I have always suspected that there must be much cruelty involved in this system, but, like most people, I buy normal milk if I can't get the organic variety. But do you know how it works on such a farm? When the little calves are born they get 3 days with their mommies. Then they are removed and placed into solitary confinement for 6 weeks. No grass. They can't be with each other, as they would suck each other. Their need to suck is so strong that no animal or human can come near them, they would suck anyone, anywhere. Imagine the trauma to those little calves. I saw them in their cement pens and it broke my heart. Heard them calling out to their mommies all night. Why all this suffering? So we humans can drink the milk that was supposed to be theirs. We can't blame the farmers - they're doing this because we are buying that milk. I don't know about you guys, but I can't be part of this terrible system any longer. I wonder how it works on an organic milk farm. Could someone fill me in on this? Next time you reach for a regular bottle of milk, please take a moment to think of the terrible price of suffering which some creature has to pay for your drinking pleasure. Unfortunately that goes for yoghurt and cheese too. We can do something about this. We can stop.

  2. admin

    Thanks for the feedback we've got via email. One suggested source for the Vitamin C statement is Nutritional medicine : Fact and Fiction by Igor Tabrizian - Page 81. Other related studies include: MINNEAPOLIS, June 2, 2002 -- Organically-grown oranges contain up to 30% more vitamin C than those grown conventionally, it was reported today at a Great Lakes Regional meeting of the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society. See research paper attached Determination and comparison of vitamin C, calcium and potassium in four selected conventionally and organically grown fruits and vegetables by K. G. Masamba and M. Nguyen University of Malawi, Bunda College, Department of Home Economics and Human Nutrition, Box 219, Lilongwe, Malawi and University of Newcastle, Ourimbah campus, New South Wales, 2258, Australia. From: African Journal of Biotechnology Vol. 7 (16), pp. 2915-2919, 18 August, 2008 Available online at ISSN 1684-5315 © 2008 Academic Journals Full Length Research Paper

  3. Kirstin

    Hi Elma I think most of us share your concern about the terrible cruelty handed out to the animals at many mainstream dairy farms. I can tell you at this point that none of the farms who supply our dairy products practice such extremes with regard to the animals and their young. It is a fundamental tenet of all organic farming, certified and not-certified, that there is a greater respect for the earth and all those who live on her than that which you describe. Nevertheless, the calves or kids on all dairy farms are weaned, and many are culled for the meat market. This is the difficult part of dairy farming. We have to make the choice as individuals whether or not to support this. I am gathering more specific and quite detailed information on the cow/calf and nanny/kid relationship from each of our dairy farmers in response to your post, and I will advise when I have collated all of these. Thank you for giving us all the opportunity to consider this matter. Kirstin Dry & Cold Goods

  4. Duncan Drennan

    Is most maize in SA really GM? I am just confused by that statement versus the African Centre for Biosafety's GM map.

  5. admin

    Thanks Duncan, "most" is not accurate. According to the figures at, GM maize made up 29% in 2006. Since GM maize is mixed in with other maize products, it's probably true though to say that most processed maize products contain GM maize.

  6. Duncan Drennan

    Thanks Ian, that is an interesting article. I remember seeing the website of a group that does testing of South African products for GM. It was quite interesting to see which brands tested positive (and which negative). Now I just wish I had bookmarked that page...

  7. Organic Eating Daily

    I just did a post today on CSAs in southern california and was doing some research for follow-up -- finding a lot of pieces online, and happily at that. Thanks for the great article and read! Be back soon for more!

  8. Karen

    Hi Kristin Anything further on the organic dairy information? Thanks

  9. R MALAN

    You can see our website for more information on another firelighter and fireblocks from wastepaper and wooddust. Sun and air dried. Also sold at the Pretoria Green Market at the Botanical Gardens. The fireblocks need no firelighters and do not make coals but burn out completely and is an ideal instant heat for cooking, waterboiling and heating. One block burns for 30 minutes - make a supper of frenchtoast and coffee for 3 with half a block.

  10. Kirstin

    Hi Karen I have had very full feedback from all but one of our dairy suppliers. Please send me your email address, and I'll email my report back to you. Kind regards Kirstin


    If you're not posting the dairy information generally, please send it to me as well. Thanks for all that you do for all of us - now and in the future.

  12. Zola

    Can I also please have the dairy information. Thanks

  13. werner

    Beautiful site and very very interesting. I will be back much much more often. thank you kind regards,

  14. Carien

    Hi Kirsten, I would really appreciate it if you can send me the dairy farm info. Thanks! Carien

  15. Christine

    Please send me the dairy info! I have just read the book "Your Life in Your Hands" by Jane Plant and was shocked when she mentioned that we drink something like 59 hormones with the milk - one of the reasons being that they milk the cows during pregnancy and after they have given birth and all the hormones are still in the milk. Too many hormones lead to cancer, especially breast and prostate.